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What Counts In Life?

Looking for the best price on gas station signs—$1.99, $2.09, $2.19—has become a road hazard as dangerous as keying digits 0 through 9 with both hands on cell phone pads while maneuvering through darkening rush hour traffic—4 through 6—or checking speedometer readings—35, 45, 55, 65.

We’ve become the numbers generation.

We’re tricked into thinking that $1.99 is significantly different than $2.00, and a $19,999 car is a big bargain when compared to one costing $20,000.

College students fall victim to grade-point averages, which suggest that a 2.5 is a lot smarter than a 2.4, and a 4.0 is some kind of guarantee that there’s a job out there for 5-star bean counters.

Even as it is, the brain has to work overtime remembering bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, and Uncle Joe’s birthday. Why couldn’t he have an annual candle lighting as simple as “I was born” and “one of these times I’ll be passing on,” and let it go at that?

Aunt Martha doesn’t need to be burdened with another “Why, you’re as spry as a 60-year-old…why, you don’t look a day older than 70.”

Same thing with the price of gasoline. Set a price and leave it alone for a week or two, for heaven’s sake. Pull over, stop, and make the cell phone call. Slow down and leave the speed records to the Indianapolis 500.

People shouldn’t be using cell phones while trying to stay out of the way of 18-wheelers, and it doesn’t seem to make good common sense to try to outwit the pulsating radar apparatus. Floorboard only when necessary, I say, to get out of the way of something that should be obvious to the 100% law enforcers and the 99.9% law-abiders.

Take your average weather forecaster—30 percent chance of rain. That means there’s a 70 percent chance that it’s not going to wring out a drop of moisture. Or 50 percent chance of snow. That means a toss of a dime that it’s not going to snow.

And then there’s that Alan Greenspan fellow with his 1/4 of a percent prime interest rate. The ups and downs make some of us as nervous as cliff rats.

Back to birthdays!

Since I’ll be 75 this month and the missus will be 60 in March, we’ve decided not to try to surprise each other. We’re thinking about our 135th birthday celebration and let it go at that. No more birthdays. Instead of $2.99 cards, we’ll just reach over and give each other a big ole kiss.

What this means is, numbers be darned! We might have been stitched in the year zero, or we could have threaded the needle in the year 10,000. We is who we is, what we is, when we is, where we is. As for how it happened, we’ll settle with the idea that miracles come without price tags, speed limits, or the need to know a precise number on a cell phone so as to call Uncle Joe or Aunt Martha.

We don’t count the beating of our hearts when we wake up in the morning, or rush to hook up our arms in the take-no-prisoners blood pressure machine. We don’t try to count the snowflakes on our windshield as we drive down the roads of our unfolding, naturally wintering future. Counting calories and carbs is a poor substitute for moderation.

There’s still plenty of time to be on the lookout for another spring and another summer and another autumn, and it doesn’t matter a hoot what the number says on the calendar. We’re blessed with life, and that’s what counts!

The 911 invention is a good thing to remember, but sometimes it might be better to drop to our knees for more than 30 seconds of prayer.

We might want to listen.

There might be an incoming message of greater importance.

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